IF YOU want a measure of Paddy Dow's consistency, his record in three seasons at Geelong Grammar is worth a mention.
Since moving from Swan Hill in country Victoria to the prestigious boarding school, Dow has won its best and fairest three years running – from year 10 through to year 12 in 2017. If nothing else it shows what most recruiters know about Dow: he turns up to play every week.
That was certainly the case this season at every level for Dow, who swiftly rose into early pick contention on the back of some very good showings for the Bendigo Pioneers and at national level for Vic Country.
The midfielder won All Australian honours for his efforts during the under-18 carnival, and was in terrific form late in the year before a shoulder injury, and subsequent surgery, ruled him out of the latter rounds. He still had his arm in a sling at the NAB AFL Draft Combine and faces a slightly delayed start to pre-season.
There's plenty of reasons why Dow should be near the top of draft boards.
Does he win his own ball? Yes, he averaged 18 disposals in four games at championships level and 11 of those were in contested situations. He also averaged five clearances a game in that time. Is he quick? Dow runs the 20-metre sprint under three seconds and shows that dash to get out of strife on the field.
Does he find the ball? He averaged 26 disposals at TAC Cup level this year. Does he kick goals? Regularly, including two in his best-on-ground 35-disposal effort in round 16 of the TAC Cup season, which turned out to be his final appearance for the season.
That's just a few reasons. Dow has the essentials you want in a midfield – he enjoys the rough and tumble, he can get his hands dirty – but he complements those traits with good outside dash and an ability to break free from a stoppage and kick a goal.
Dow's foot skills are good without being outstanding, but that's probably nit-picking because there's not a lot there to be really concerned about. Is he tall enough? At 185cm, yes.
Think Brad Crouch. With his turn of speed, combined with his penchant for winning his own ball and then busting through traffic, Dow carries some similar traits to the Adelaide midfielder.
Dow's weight of performance this year has thrust him into the conversation for the No.1 pick, and he shapes as a low-risk choice: his footy will stack up fine at the top level and he is a quality character. If not there, he will be in the mix for one of the early selections and is a worthy top-10 choice.
It's hard not to warm to Dow, who plays footy in the right way – tough and competitive. But there's more than first meets the eye to him, and it's not just that he backs it up every week and plays in the same manner and spirit whichever level he's at. It's the spin out of trouble, or the push forward and big goal when his side needs one. He's a player who steps up, and he did it all year.